Have you noticed how much buzz there is around fast fashion?
How much emphasis is given to those choices that are certainly more sustainable than the great giants working at the limit of quality and fairness, but which rarely take into consideration the somersaults that a mother must do when she needs to dress young children?
Fast fashion is one of my personal peeves and the reasons are various.
Amongst them, the following:
- working conditions and salaries are not necessarily fair;
- poor quality fabrics, unsustainably sourced, create garments which are not made to be durable;
- the purchase of massive bulks of synthetics which led to unnecessary waste;
- the philosophy behind the impulse to buy bundles of cheap clothes, only to discard them after a few washings.
If you have not seen yet the documentary “The True Cost”, I suggest you do so because it will give you a more in-depth look at a topic that is vast and not easy to frame in its complexity.
After watching the movie, you will probably be even more puzzled than before (I know…) about how to proceed with purchases, because of the many facets of the fast fashion mayhem.
Buying organic does not necessarily mean fairly produced and the same works vice-versa.
White garments are not always synonym of cleaner production processes, as strong and potentially dangerous bleaches can be used to whiten up the fabrics.
Many renowned labels are not respecting the law either so do not assume that spending a lot would guarantee you good quality.
Nonetheless, there are many reasons why fast fashion should be ditched, at least most of the time (we are humans and we all get weak sometimes).
Still, how do we deal with it when we have a family of young, messy, growing-at-the-speed-of-light kids?
The same mother who believes fast fashion should be excluded as a purchase option may, however, have to change three t-shirts a day because:
- at school it was the day of pasta with tomato sauce;
- in the woods the berries have attacked the entire class;
- at the playground, the slide must be run on the stomach, over two million pebbles carefully scattered on the slide, before the descent.
Do we really need to spend a million dollars on a wardrobe that will last a season, sometimes less? NO. It’d be another waste. Unless you’re rich and famous, but it’ll still be a waste.
HOW CAN WE MOMS AVOID THE FAST FASHION FEVER, BUY GOOD QUALITY AND CONSCIOUS MADE CLOTHES, WITHOUT SPENDING A FORTUNE?
This is what I do:
MAP IT OUT
I sit and think about the ideal wardrobe for the season and I map it out before the shopping. The number of tees, underwear, trousers, forest gear, Sunday dress (yay!), jackets, you name it.
Map the purchases in advance will reduce the urge of buying without motivation (you already bought what was needed) and to fall into temptation with fast fashion, more often.
Also, this way you are going to spend less because it won’t be just about instant gratification but careful planning. Fact.
And this brings us to the following method.
I prefer to invest in a smaller amount of good quality clothes rather than heaps of cheap stuff and that is simply because the garments will be used a myriad times more and the cost, I assure you, will be the same or less than going to fast fashion.
How to do that?
BUY DURING SALES
It will not probably be immediate but if you start planning what your kids really need, you will soon have a good eye for buying the right pieces during season sales. You can get absolutely wonderful deals especially during the last two three-weeks of sales: we bought P&B winter jackets this Summer for a third of the price.
BUY SECOND HAND
This is another excellent way of saving and reducing the impact of waste. We have a second-hand market, twice a year, in the area where we live: we felt to have stolen a few garments by paying, for example, only 10 francs for a pair of barely used Sorel boots. Find out if there is a market close to your place, or start one yourself!
Also, when shopping second hand, why not buying used fast fashion? I think it could be a good way to, at least, honoured the work of the people who have been paid nothing to produce that good.
SWAP YOUR KID’s CLOTHES
This is an option that I favour even better than second hand, for two reasons:
you know the person you’re swapping clothes with and
you don’t pay a penny.
I read, somewhere online, that there are also swapping shops, unfortunately not here in Zürich (at least that I know): what a great idea! If some of you know a place, please recommend it! Or share your views on the topic!
I am really curious about the working mechanism of such a business.
SPOT THE RIGHT LABELS
This is the hardest part.
How do we know that a simply beautiful skirt (beauty is our charmer here) has been fairly produced or that it has been made with good quality and, or sustainable fabrics?
This is the toughest job. Most of the time, tags do not really specify characteristics related to the quality of fabrics, although sometimes you can find some differentiations written on them: for example, this can be the case of Pima cotton, the extra-long staple cotton largely associated with a high-quality cotton cloth.
However, I would say that good valued fabrics are assessable through experience, through trials and errors. Or by reading the many reviews you can find online.
When it rather comes to social and environmental terms, the only secure way to find out if a brand is doing a sustainable job is through certifications: the brand is assessed by an external authority which releases a written proof about the company’s commitment regarding social and/or environmental impact.
Very few brands have sustainability reports published on their websites and sometimes this is because certifications cost quite a lot.
A little but sustainable brand, which just started out its business, and creates beautiful garments with good quality, ethically sourced textiles, may find difficult to shell out thousands for a certification.
This does not mean it is not doing a good job.
So when I see a brand I like, which is not – for example – a top-notch brand like mini rodini (check out their sustainable page here), I reach out.
I ask about what are the brand’s values and production processes, where they source, quality of garments, whatever I feel important.
And I strongly suggest you do the same.
You will find out much interesting information and you will potentially impact the sales of non-sustainable practices: say it out loud to your friends, on your social networks and try to make a difference. Have you already type the hashtag #whomademyclothes for example?
Or #fashionrevolution ? It’s a good base to start knowing more.
There are tons of stunning labels out there, small but caring.
I personally know the founders of two beautiful brands and I had the privilege of talking and discussing with them the complex aspects of their work.
They are doing an amazing job and I would like to quickly introduce them to you.
One is minimalisma, a minimalistic Scandinavian design combined with the finest qualities.
I especially like it as underwear (they have some style for women too), as a base under the forest or ski gear, absolutely perfect as PJs and I find it super comfy when I travel. The silk seamless collection is love at first sight and the summer dresses for me are just lovely.
minimalism a offers a 100% certified organic cotton essential collection which is functional and sustainable. Shades are a huge distinction of this brand, I love them all.
On a very important note: I passed to B many minimalisma pieces P wore years ago.
The label is durable, not only timeless in style.
The second brand I would like to introduce to you is Mimi+Bart.
I’ve recently met Kathrin, one of the two founders, and she was enthusiastic in telling me their deep interest in sustainability in regards to materials, supply chain, product life-cycle. How important it is for them to identify the point of work-life balance (they both are moms to small children).
Kathrin and Jasmin kicked-off their business mid-2017 and, within only a few months, they have started producing their first certified organic cotton Fall/Winter collection.
What I particularly liked about Mimi+Bart is its ambitions to inspire change and consciousness towards environmental causes, more sustainable lifestyles, without sacrificing the playfulness we all love about children clothes.
Last but not the least.
Do talk to your kids about the conscious choices you are making.
It does not have to be philosophical rhetoric: you can simply explain:
the consequences of chemical for the environment, children understand nature;
the value of the people working hard to make that piece of garment for us, children too sometimes;
the waste we create buying too much and how we can limit this.
We can bring up a new generation of cool kids who care about the planet and the people living in it, let’s encourage them to do good and to change the actual flippant approach too many of us grown-ups have towards disposable fashion.
If you liked my list of options for a more sustainable wardrobe, don’t feel stressed about implementing all the steps right away, in one go.
You can acknowledge them, absorb them if you like the reasoning, and pick the easy one for you, start from there and try to change the story, little by little.
It tooks me years to be better and I am still learning lots. I buy crap too sometimes, because there’s an urgent need or because there’s something very pretty…but I am generally much much better now and almost 90% satisfied with what I buy.
To help you navigate the intricate net of children brands out there, I leave you another guidance.
There is an awesome list of nice shops you can start browsing on two of my favourite fashion blogs for children:
Not all reviewed labels are sustainable labels probably but you can have a look at them, get some inspiration and start asking your questions right away, when in need to.
If you will ever get the chance, please yourself with a visit at PLAYTIME (locations are various). You will find the most amazing brands for kids and most of the times you can directly talk to the owners. BLISS.
In Paris I was pestering brands to make grown-up sizes: clothes were just heaven!
Cannot wait to hear your feedbacks on this topic, so bring it on!
Thanks for reading.